In Our Darkest Hour, the Kindness of (Facebook) Friends Sustained Us


We saw this in the sky Sunday over Lake Buena Vista on our way home from a harrowing weekend in the hospital.

We experienced a bit of a scare over the weekend. Those of you who know us might already have heard. If not, I apologize for the ambiguity, but there’s something I want to say and this is my dais.

To protect our family’s privacy, I won’t get into the details. I understand that’s a contradiction, that a public journal like this is not generally the place for privacy. Yet, there we are.

I will say this to provide context. One of our sons was hospitalized over the weekend, and the event that made the hospitalization necessary was a terrible experience for my wife and me.

Let me just add: Pure fear plus complete exhaustion equals utter disorientation.

While the medical details are not for public consumption, I am compelled to let those of you who have reached out over the past few days know that we are home, we are well and everything is OK. We are tired, but fortunate. We are also incredibly thankful.

Which brings me to the point of this post.

At the hospital on Friday night, during the darkest moments of the darkest midnight hour of my life, I turned on my iPhone and touched the Facebook icon. I touched the button for status update and typed one word: Prayers. I have no recollection of doing this, and it was not like me at all. I am not a religious person. Prayer probably does not mean to me what it means to those of you who attend church or temple or a mosque regularly.

I’ve thought a lot about why I wrote that word on Facebook at that moment. I’ve seen others post something similar on occasions far more – and far less – emotionally trying. Usually, I’ve skipped right on by it, maybe even rolling my eyes about it. Really? A call for prayers on a social media network? It always seemed superficial, a desperate cry for attention.

I understand now. While I might not think of prayer the way some people think of prayer, the outcome was essentially the same. For me, it was a cry in the dark, a way to ask for emotional support in my time of extreme need. My wife and I were in shock, completely overwhelmed by events.

Walt Disney World

The folks at Disney’s Port Orleans Riverside Resort delivered this care package to the hospital for both of our sons. It was an above-and-beyond moment, and yet another kind gesture that helped us get through the awful weekend.

When I sent out that digital distress signal, people responded. Even though it was nearly midnight on a Friday night, people saw our need. The outpouring of support and kindness and love overwhelmed us in a different way. A good way.

And it continued throughout the weekend. As we emerged from the darkest hour and soaked in some good news, we found ourselves breaking into tears over all the kindnesses people shared with us on Facebook. Dozens of people responded with words of warmth, which helped sustain us.

Some people sent private messages. Some people made phone calls. All of the people who reached out either through words or even through the simple act of clicking the “like” button on our updates helped get us through it. For that, I thank you. And never again will I roll my eyes at a call for help on social media. I can’t say I’ll respond to every request, but I will understand that on the other end of that status update is a human being in need, and if I can help simply by letting them know I’m in their corner, I will.

I also need to acknowledge the kindness of the folks at the Port Orleans Riverside Resort at Walt Disney World. That’s where we were supposed to be over the weekend, celebrating my wife’s birthday with her parents. Instead, we were at the spectacular Nemours Children’s Hospital, which is where the Disney employee found us to deliver a care package for both of our sons. It was another gesture that helped our family cope with one of the most horrifying events of our lives.

Let me leave you with the conclusion from a private essay I wrote to help me order my thoughts and make some sense of it all. I will never publish that essay in full, but the conclusion is worth sharing, I think.

“We came home late Sunday morning. On the way home, we saw a skywriter use an airplane to write the word ‘LOVE’ in the air above Lake Buena Vista. Our son slept in the back seat while my wife and I talked about the weekend we had, the weekend we expected to have and the weekends we still get to have together as a family.”

31 thoughts on “In Our Darkest Hour, the Kindness of (Facebook) Friends Sustained Us

  1. I am so incredibly sorry you went through that over the weekend. I’m glad you are all home, and safe. From what it sounds like it was a pretty traumatic experience for the adults involved, but you’re adults, you’ll manage. My thoughts are with your boys, and while kids are resilient, things like this can have lasting effects. I hope and pray they both come through this unscarred. I assume he isn’t in school today, and hopefully he can return shortly and get back to some normalcy.

    • Amazingly, he is in school. Both of them are. Without getting into the details, I can say the resilience of these two little guys has been nothing short of breathtaking. The same can be said of the support of our family. Thanks, Daniel.

    • Thanks. Still a bit numb today, but it’s been amazing to see folks respond so warmly. Not surprising, mind you. I’m an optimist. I always try to think the best of people. More often than not, that optimism proves well-founded.

  2. Hey Carter — I’m just now finding out about this whole ordeal, and am retroactively terrified and currently relieved beyond comprehension for all of you. I can’t even imagine how wrenching an experience that must’ve been, but it’s wonderful to hear that when you reached out in an hour of great need… others reached back.

    I hope Jay continues to do well, and that you and Beth can find your way back to the quiet joys of normality sometime soon. I’d imagine that would be an immensely welcome relief to you all.

    • Yes, it would, and will. We’re getting there already. It hit the grownups harder than the boys, who are made of titanium coated in galvanized rubber and just always seem to rebound so fast and well.

  3. I thought it was odd and wondered what was wrong, but I can see why you may not want to broadcast it publicly, since you use your real name in social media, and a potential health insurer or employer (who doesn’t give a damn about the ADA) could google your child when he’s grown and use such knowledge to hurt him.

    Glad you were comforted in your time of need!

    • That’s exactly it. We share a lot about our family, and I wonder about it every time. This was the first time we came across something that clearly should not be divulged in a public arena without his permission, and of course he can’t give that for many years. Thanks for understanding. And yeah, we had tons of family staying in close contact (in Orlando and all over the country), but the online community gave us that added emotional boost throughout the ordeal. And they still are right now.

      • I totally relate to the idea of second thoughts about the things I share about my family, especially my daughter. “Second thoughts” doesn’t mean regret, it just means that I feel the gravity of sharing stories that are not merely my own, and have to consider carefully what and how much is fair for me to publish. As long as I blog, it will probably be a tricky tight-rope to walk.

  4. You were in our thoughts. We spent the weekend at Disney, too, and I told my wife about your situation. Glad to hear it appears things took a turn for the better. We saw that LOVE in the sky on Sunday, too.

  5. Glad to hear everything is OK, Carter. So sorry about whatever happened, but it’s good to know that things are – hopefully – returning to normal. Funny how social media works – sometimes we are against it, but sometimes it can surprise you when it doesn’t turn ugly to know that there are mostly good humans out there.

  6. Carter, I’m really glad things resolved well. We haven’t had a true scare with our daughter yet, but it still gives me the sweats thinking about it. And I think you pretty much hit the reasons for prayer right on the nose, whether coming from someone religious or not.

  7. I am so sorry I was absent on Facebook this past weekend and missed your distress signal. With Halloween, a school function and my daughter’s 12th birthday, I was in my own little bubble. I hope all is well now and I will send you some belated, overdue prayers. xox

  8. I’m glad to hear everything is okay I have been curious, but did not want to intrude. I have been thinking about you and your family. Love. Indeed.

  9. So glad that everything turned out okay in the end. I remember doing the same thing, sending out that digital SOS. The response was humbling and very comforting. I will keep all of you in my prayers.

  10. Some of my friends think of social media as being without value and I have argued that there is far more there and that because they don’t use it they don’t understand. I am glad it helped you. Best wishes to your family.

  11. […] Then, please read the Daddy Files author Aaron Gouveia’s moving account of a medical scare he and his family endured last weekend. His experience hit close to home for us, coming as it did just a few months after our own medical scare. […]

  12. […] He’s completely healthy now. In fact, he’s the one who asked me the question that got this whole thing started, the one I was playing catch with before bedtime the other night. I think I know now what the answer is, but I still don’t know how to tell him that the hardest thing I’ve ever done is to confront the very real possibility that he was going to die right there in front of us, and that there was absolutely nothing I could do to stop it. […]

  13. […] He’s completely healthy now. In fact, he’s the one who asked me the question that got this whole thing started, the one I was playing catch with before bedtime the other night. I think I know now what the answer is, but I still don’t know how to tell him that the hardest thing I’ve ever done is to confront the very real possibility that he was going to die right there in front of us, and that there was absolutely nothing I could do to stop it. […]

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